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Recording Acoustic Guitar and room acoustic

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by audiokid, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Somewhere in this is my quote of the day ,

    recording an acoustic guitar in a poorly treated room is like recording it in two bad rooms in one shot.
    The acoustic guitar body is a room in itself, which is effected by the room it is being playing in.. Care to word it better, be my guest! Its a good one to remember.

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I absolutely agree. However... you said nothing about the room itself? Poorly treated? I never mistreat a room. What did it do to me? I treat all of my rooms with dignity and respect. Sometimes I'll even put a smiley face on the wall just to make it look happy. If you put the smiley face up upside down? Then you have a mistreated room.

    So what denotes a bad room? Too large and ambient? Too large and dead? Too small with a terrible room resonance? Too small and too live? Flutter echoes? Slap echoes? An acoustic echo chamber with psychosis?

    None of the above scenarios should be a problem, if you had used ribbon microphones. Those will make any room sound good. Even when they're bad. The room, not the microphone.

    I really like to hear acoustic guitar in a room that has some ambience. A flattering sonic signature. Too live and it blurs the articulation. Too dead and the guitar cannot bloom. Forcing the sound to stay within the guitar body. As you indicated, the body is part of the room. The room needs some body. So that the guitar body, is one with the room. So that the guitar and the room create a symbiotic relationship with each other. And I feel in that respect, there really isn't a bad room to put an acoustic guitar into?

    What do you do when you have bad acoustics that you cannot control? You can't avoid those acoustics. People try to do that, futilely. I, on the other hand, can generally take lousy acoustics and use them. Accentuate them. EQ, compression, limiting, downward expansion, gating. Make it a part of the recording in whatever extraordinary way you have to. Because there isn't any other choice. This is what true audio engineering is all about. It's not a perfect world. It doesn't matter if the equipment is perfect. Given the lousy sounding room? An audio engineer has to do what an audio engineer has to do. And that's just make a quality recording, irrespective of what you deem to be lousy acoustics. It can be done. It has always been done. It's nothing new. But I do agree with you. It's disheartening when you do have to deal with lousy acoustics that cannot be changed. It puts your brain into overdrive. It pushes your technique to your absolute limits. And no matter how bad you feel the recording turned out? You look at the clients and tell them how great it sounds! While nodding your head up and down in affirmation while smiling. And then your client gives you an additional $50 tip because you made them such a wonderful recording. We'll just never tell them how much it really sucks. That's only for us to know.

    Mums the word.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    the post/quote (which you never completed for me ;) ) was more in fun but I'll add,

    Really, a ribbon sounds good in any room? I have a banjo and an acoustic g to track in the over (well, I may only be there watching but could supply some gear if it made things better ) and I was thinking about using a 121 ribbon over the shoulder pointing down with something else pointing at the 12th fret. Then, using another SF24 just to grab the room a bit.

    I've read over the shoulder is a good method but never done it. The banjo is a new one for me as well as over the shoulder. I hope it turns out as good as you say... even if the room sucks! (y)

    That is, if I still have a few mics left after this dry month waiting out the politics over all this oil pipeline crapper . If only the world would stop fighting.... we could get back to some good music.

    I've been watching some of this for idea's: http://mojaveaudio.com/audiovideo/

    any tips are more than welcome.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is exactly why I have a gobo or two. No matter how uncontrolled a room is, if you can gobo off a side or even two sides around a source chances are it will sound nice with great gear involved.

    The 'over-the-shoulder' mic technique works really well with a banjo. You have to have something thats fairly hyper-cardioid...small d mics work well for this. and a fast preamp. Another thing to consider with banjo is WHAT IT IS.....Its a freekin drum with strings. Approach it that way and it'll pay off.

    Gobo one side, hyper-cardioid, mic it like a snare....Also...Banjo's are very loud...thus the gobo.....Your 121 will sound good in front. SDC over the shoulder....
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    we're leaving out a pretty crucial quotient in the equation here, gang...

    The acoustic guitar itself.

    Some are just made to record, or so it seems... older Martins, Guilds, Gibsons, etc., they just have "that" sonic signature, a perfect balance of tonality... warm yet silky, and it seems as if no matter what mic(s) you put on them, they just always seem to sound great. I'm sure it has to do with the quality and craftsmanship in the original build, but, they've also had time to "season" as they age, and that factor also certainly lends to the sound.

    Newer made guitars generally have a tendency to be a bit brighter in the hi mids and hi's than those that were made decades ago (And yes, before you fire up your flame throwers, of course there are exceptions) and because digital can be a bit "peaky" by nature to begin with, sometimes these brighter sounding guitars end up sounding "fizzy" and "glassy" when recorded digitally.

    As far as over-the-shoulder, I never had much luck recording an acoustic track with the OTS technique... my best results - in both digital and analog formats - have pretty much always been a 414 for simple mono, or, a nice ribbon when one was available, or, an M-S for stereo - BUT you need a pretty nice sounding room for M-S, because the room is half of what you'll pick up when you use that method (if, of course, you are mixing your sides in equal to your mid).

    So yes, mics, mic positions, pre's and rooms do definitely matter, big time... but, no more or less than the instrument itself as well. ;)

    IMHO of course,

  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    So true. I always have some kind of acoustic track on most stuff that comes through here. And in the last few years MIC CHOICE has become so important to an acoustic track being special. I've had the opportunity to record some seriously great sounding instruments and while their voice is more than half the sound...MORE THAN HALF....you can seriously choke something special by simply putting the wrong mic on it. AND proven mics for just such a situation. Sometimes they are just wrong. Something in the timbre of the instrument doesn't agree with the mic choice. A standing harmonic coming from the body, or a string that a little hotter or even the key signature and the chordal style....ie:eek:pen strings ringing apposed to tight bar chords or simple finger picking...all this matters.

    I have a friend who has one of the BEST sounding acoustic guitars I have ever heard. Its an old Gurian and it has aged well. Now its the fine wine of tone. A wonderful instrument. It records well with a tight pattern SDC and a fast preamp. It has so much character that using something tubey or vibey would detract from the natural tonality and overall huge voice of this instrument.

    So you have to chose carefully. You'd think that a Neumann through a Manley would work for something like this and generally it will. Always a good place to start.
    kmetal likes this.
  7. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    I just watched the videos of Tim Pierce recording with Royers and 57's on the Royers site (link from this site). Really good stuff. There's $1200 I need to find.
    bigtree likes this.
  8. I have put acoustic foam tiles evenly distributed around my small rectangular room, threw down a rug on my thin carpet and it's completely got rid of the horrible flutter echo and made the room sound neutral but not dead...now I can record my overly trebly Taylor a bit further away (about 1 metre) from the mic which reduces the top end spikeyness and now sound much more natural sounding with one mic. Would think a ribbon mic would be great on my Taylor though.
  9. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Soon (tm), I am going to put my various mics to test on my new gibson songwriter studio. New year now though. I have traditionally gone DI and a Mic, I am going to go 2 mics this time. Taylor definitely suffers from high sound on my 413ltd. My 1987 Maton needs soundboard repair, that probably is the biggest sounding of my guitars. And of course, there are the Ovations, all 3 offer something different. The 12 string ovation is very nice. I am thinking try out my NT2 Rode, the AT 4033a and my Baby blue bottle. Already know the RC500 sounded good on the Taylor with a single mic. Need a second one of those... oh Leigh... (smack, your not spending more!!@).

    As a side note, the Gibson has the new LR Braggs pickup, lots of rave reviews.
  10. MDMachiavelli

    MDMachiavelli Active Member

    Recording at home I try to record acoustic guitars in several rooms looking for the "ambiance" I have in my head. Sometimes I even take the recordings of the several rooms and mix them together to develop the sound I'm trying to achieve

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